Monday, November 23, 2009


Dear fellow ponderers on this mortal coil,

Join me for a moment in the world of contemplation and thought, where the material slows to a halt and the mental consumes our focus.

Our class was assigned to consider some ethical complications of neuroprosthetics, a very possible future technology in which we can enhance or recreate cognitive and sensory processes in humans. You could, for instance, have neurosurgery in order to be a math whiz, or to have an incredible memory for every fact or number you encounter, or to be able to perceive sounds from miles away, etc. This brings up a number of moral dilemmas,as you can imagine. The following question was posited by our teacher.

Research Assignment for Biopsychology Class: Question # 4. Would you become “less” human with all of these prosthetics?

Perhaps the knowledge of one with a neuroprosthetic would be valued and yet not admired as much as the naturally acquired abilities of an unmodified human or a savant. While intrinsically speaking the knowledge or ability would be the same in both, its artificiality in the former may to some degree taint its beauty or metphorically cheapen it, similar to a manufactured ruby which is physically and molecularly identical to a natural one, and yet cheaper and less valuable by virtue of its unnatural fabrication.

To know if a person would become less human by means of the use of neuroprosthetics, scientists must first grapple with the complexity of what makes us distinctively human. Since scientists have worked tirelessly to erase any distinction between humans and other mammals, can we then not pointedly ask them how anybody or anything could become less human?

Thoughtfully yours,

Mrs H
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Dear members of the press and others:

Part of the brain that is involved in initiating activities is the Basal Ganglia, a structure at the base of the forebrain involved in motor learning, muscle memory, skills, and habits (such as typing without consciously deciding where to put your fingers for each letter). When you decide (in the Prefrontal Cortex) that you want to initiate a certain action, such as standing up, then your brain goes into sequencing mode. This is a simplistic model, but essentially signals are sent from the prefrontal cortex and the primary motor cortex (a structure that controls your muscles) to the Basal Ganglia.

Myriad things are happening in your brain at the moment you make the rational decision to stand up. As your brain rapidly sends the signals via a variety of pathways to the alpha-motor neurons of your skeletal muscles, another area of your brain is pumping Dopamine up to the Basal Ganglia. This Dopamine is vital for initiating and repeating activities. It reassures the Basal Ganglia that the movement is good, it is correct, and it should continue. For instance, when you strike a chord on a piano and it turns out awful, the Dopamine flow is reduced (but never completely stopped). When you strike it correctly, the Dopamine flows rapidly again, and you feel good.

When Dopamine flow is chronically reduced by means of a disorder, you end up with a condition such as Parkinson's Disease, where it is very difficult for a person to initiate an activity. Although they consciously may want to, it may be near impossible for them to get started. (Once they get started they can carry out the activity just fine if they know it well, but if they try to initiate stopping the activity, they may not be able to and hence might run into a wall, keep rocking their chair, etc.)

This morning, I laid in bed for an hour after my alarm went off, dozing and reawakening with the horrible guilt of knowing that I should be getting up to swim. I eventually got so frustrated that I hauled myself out of bed and shuffled off to the YMCA, where I had a satisfying, invigorating morning swim. But it seemed as though just getting that momentum, getting that initiation to occur, was near impossible. My brain was hampered with indecision as it weighed the almost equal balances of staying in a warm bed to sleep, against getting up and swimming and refreshing myself.

The brain weighs decisions in terms of the power of various inputs synapsing upon the neurons - how much weight I place on an input is up to me. Are the inputs of staying warm, comfy, and resting more important to me? Or is getting up, starting my day, eating oatmeal, and swimming more important? I need to rationally and logically place more and more weight on the side of getting up to go swim, and downplay the attractions of staying in bed, as that conviction will make it easier for my brain to tend towards the desired activity. I need to cognitively reinforce myself as I go to the YMCA, swim, and relax afterward - consciously think about how good it felt, how refreshed I was, how motivated I was, how enjoyable it was.

I need to make the decision process simpler so that the initiation process will follow more easily, with solid conviction to back it up. Flow Dopamine, flow!


Mrs H
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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Circus Isn't the Only Place You Find Jugglers ... or is it?

Dearest compatriots,

I hardly know where to begin! No philosophy here today ... just clearing my brain from the cobwebs of exams.

My husband is home, which is wonderful - it is so good to have the man back in the house. He spent his first day home chugging through a long to-do list to get himself caught back up on everything from union dues to cleaning the mail bin in the office. This was wonderful! He even cleaned out underneath our kitchen sink (zealous boy), bringing in a bin to rearrange the recycle-trash-plastic bags that reside down there.

I am excited to announce that in his absence, my brother, sister, his parents, and I assembled some amazing shelving for all our canned goods. I really could not be happier ... I had to go look at them at least twenty times after they were assembled just to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I can finally access a jar of pickles without lifting thirteen forty-pound boxes! Many thanks to all who contributed to this effort, which was a surprise for Mr. H!

It seems like my plate is full right now, but happily full. I am extremely cautious about adding things to my schedule, even just visits or dinners, much less regular activities. I am currently engaged in school (daily), choir (1 - 2 times weekly), church (weekly), and housekeeping and being a wife. That is all I feel I should be trying to shuffle right now; it is just enough to keep me busy, with the occasional evening arriving with nothing to do (how wonderful!) so that I can let off the pressure for a while.

I know that if I were to add much else, although it would definitely be feasible, I might go a little crazy!

For now, things are holding steady. Steady as she goes!

Yours till errands do us temporarily part,

Mrs H
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Two Weeks Can Seem Quite Long

Dear readership,

On Saturday evening after a full day of packing and housecleaning, Mr. H and Joe (his brother) decided it would be best if Mr. H were to ride with Joe and Kristina in the U-Haul to help them move into their new house in New Mexico. Mr. H packed up a duffel bag that night, and on Sunday morning we got up at 4 and headed over to Joe & Kristina's house in Bothell. We finished stuffing things into the U-Haul, vacuumed the living room carpet one last time, hitched the Jeep to the back of the truck, and they took off.

And then, Mrs. H was left all alone!

I grew up with seven other siblings, and lived at home until Mr. H whisked me away to be married; so I have essentially never lived on my own! Even if I was housesitting for a friend, I usually had a sister with me and if no sister, a few dogs and cats.

The first evening was very long, and very quiet. I would have gone to an evening service at church to get out and about, but I had to complete a homework assignment. When I left to go to the bookstore for a while, I intentionally left a light on in the living room so that I wouldn't have to return to a darkened house!

It took me quite some time (about an hour) to fall asleep the first night of Mr. H's absence. I slept very lightly and woke up many times to check my phone and see if there were any messages from him, as he was driving straight through the night with his brother.

Despite the lack of sleep, by 4AM I didn't even feel tired and I was off to the swim class at the YMCA. My coach understood the strangeness of aloneness as her husband is currently working in Flagstaff, Arizona. "Come swim any morning if you get lonely," she said, "and I'll be here! But it's the evenings that are the hardest." As long as I keep busy, it doesn't seem too lonely.

The mornings seem even stranger than the evenings, I think; Mr. H is not in the bathroom brushing his teeth, or pulling me out of bed, and I am not packing a lunch or making Pop-Tarts for his breakfast. On Tuesday, I kept hitting the snooze button on my alarm like a morphine drip, and got out of bed a full 45 minutes later than normal.

I can't help but think of my girls with husbands in the military (Kira, Kimberly, Allison!). I am impressed with how they deal with their husbands' absences, especially in the case of Kira, who has little ones to watch. You girls are my heroes!

I have a suspicion the menfolk don't always miss us as much, because they are in strange foreign surroundings with new tasks and even dangers to keep their minds occupied. To be at home repeating the rituals of normal life with a blank spot left by your spouse can be, I think, the lonelier of the two.

But Mr. H will be home by the 12th, and in the meantime, he is helping his brother and sister in a much-needed way; and that brings great joy to both of us!

With love,

Mrs H
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Because Getting Up Early is Not Fun

Dear friends, family, fellow commiserators:

I love being up early. I love the freshness of the morning, the peacefulness that prevails when only a few other souls are out and about; I love accomplishing major tasks before the sun even rises, I love SEEING the sun rise, and I deeply enjoy the general good feeling that seems to bless me when I rise up early.


I do not like getting up. I do not like trying to drag myself out from under the heavy, soft, warm blankets that are swathed about me. I do not like the racous and irreverent screech of my phone alarm. I do not appreciate the cold blast of air that hits me when I venture from under the covers. It is not pleasing to me when the laser beam of a light is flicked on and my pupils shrink so fast it gives me a headache.

Every other morning, I attend a "master swim" class at the YMCA at 5:00. This necessitates a 4:00 AM wake-up. I know few others who are up at this hour (Heather...), and the only comfort to me is that they, too, are miserably beginning the process of emerging from the cocoon of sleep, and out into the harsh and unforgiving morn.

Is that how a baby feels when it is born, I thought? Leave me in here, I am so cozy, so warm! But really, you can only be there, in bed, in the womb, for so long before it becomes unhealthy. Your life really can only progress so far, you can only accomplish so much, you can only grow to a certain extent. You need that time of respite, of recovery, of growth, but you need the cold morning to wake you up and get you moving, too. You need the stern decision that you WILL do something with your life, that you ARE going somewhere, that you CAN achieve your goals for the day.

The wisest sage who ever lived, King Solomon, addressed this common problem directly in the Sixth Proverb:

How long will you lie there, you sluggard?
When will you get up from your sleep?

10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest-

11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.

Do not lie abed too long and do not mourn the coming of dawn, dear friends, for life waits for no man and it will surely pass you by!

With love,

Mrs H
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who Roasts Chestnuts On an Open Fire, Anyway?

Dear Reader,

Fall has only just arrived, but I can barely contain myself with the thought of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all of the glorious winter-related joys - including the delicious foods that come with the season!

What is your favorite Christmas treat? Fruitcake ... a certain cookie ... pull-apart buns ... cinnamon rolls ... striped candy ... glazed ham ...

Leave us a comment describing your favorite Christmastime food (or maybe a couple favorites!).

Tastefully yours,

Mrs H
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Idle Hands Are the Devil's Workshop, So Why Not Build a Church While You're Laid Off to Annoy the Devil?

Dear gentle and kind reader,

Let me tell you how to shake up a boring afternoon. Hint: it might include a visit to your local nursing home. Surprised? Read on.

Note: It really has very little to do with the title of this blog.

Between school quarters, I had some spare time (hence the Idle Hands allusion, and the end of our connection with said title) and availed myself of the opportunity to drive up to my maternal grandmother's house in Marysville. I've called her "Grandma Oregon" my entire life because she lived in Oregon when I was growing up, and somehow we started calling her that - who knows why ... it's irrelevant.

Allow me to proceed, lest I lose your interest; I drove to her house during the heat wave and enjoyed some grapes and plums while we sat in her relaxingly cool living room and chatted (these are additional irrelevant facts, but English teachers alway say that mundane and realistic facts help to create a more realistic story, hence the inclusion of mundane and realistic facts in my very real story).

"I sure was ornery back then," Grandma Oregon said. She chuckled as she remembered her orneriness. "I was riding a bike with my friend, I think I was on the handlebars. She was going on and on about the Catholics, how awful they were, when I just up and said, 'I'm Catholic!' She sure hushed up right then! Then I told her, 'No, I'm not Catholic, I'm Christian,' he he!" My ornery little grandma laughed. I loved it.

She went on: "I always went to those prank stores, you know. I bought one of those cushions... Oh, but I'm getting ahead of myself! A salesman came to the door once, I don't know if he was the Fuller Brush man or an insurance salesman - I think he was an insurance salesman [note the irrelevant, but realistic fact]. Anyway, he knocked and I said, 'Come in if your nose is clean!' And I had put one of those cushions, you know, the kind you blow, they go Pthhh!! I put one on the couch and he sat down on it, and PGHTPHBLPPPP!!! His face got so red!! He was so embarrassed!" She could hardly continue on she was laughing so hard. "Bernice, my older sister was so angry, but he was so embarrassed!"

It took a moment to recover from the memory, and she continued: "I got one of those cups, it looks like crystal with a pattern on it; but in the pattern there is a tiny hole. I served some wine or something, oh and I was old enough to know better! They got it all over themselves and they were so angry, they said 'This is a new shirt!'"

She recalled a moment of humor with my older cousin, Chris. "When Christopher was just a little kid, he hid those jelly snakes (you know, the candy ones), in between the tissues in my box of Kleenex. I was dusting one day, I dusted just one room a day you know, and I must have been going to sneeze because I reached for a tissue and I felt something there and I just jumped!! I called Christopher and said, 'I found a jelly snake in my Kleenex!' He just said-" and her voice got very serious, "'I wondered when you were going to find those.'"

So, dear reader, go visit your Grandma.

Who knows what you'll learn?


Mrs H
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

With Her Tail Cut Short & Her Ears Cut Long...

Oh where, oh where can she be?

Mrs. H has been studying - and studying a lot!

Dearest, faithful readers,

As you may have noticed, my technical skills (!) are such that I have learned how to allow Facebook to automatically update when I post a new blog. Isn't that amazing? This is the space age, my friends, and if we can put a man on the moon, only think the wonderous intricacies that our online networks can encompass.

You may have also noticed that I have been remiss in keeping you current on the whimsies of life. This is primarily due to two things: (1) My education, (2) the allure of two new seasons of The Office being posted to Netflix.

You may sympathize with me on the latter point.

Mr. H is watching the football game and simultaneously napping (many of you wives may be familiar with this manly ritual), and I must move on from the glorious realm of blogging and Facebook, to completing my study guide for a Research Methods in Psychology class tomorrow afternoon.

Yours truly until Michael Scott returns to the glowing screen,

Mrs H
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I Tried To Wash the Rest of the Blood Out of My Hair

Dear avid readers and sporadic guests alike,

How exactly does one go about sustaining a minor head injury while running? If this is a question you have often wondered, let me help you out here. The following story illustrates my own personal experience with the matter.

I was going for an average run yesterday, and I decided to take my run to the gritty streets of Everett and Mill Creek, instead of the placid curves of the interurban trail. (I prefer street running, to be honest.) The only downfall is the occasional stoplight; when I hit one that does not signal me forward with the little White Man Walking sign, I pound the button energetically and jog in circles until the light changes for me.

Upon this significant day in my life, I was a mere quarter mile from home, with eleven and three-quarter miles under my belt. The sun was just coming out, and I was thirsty, sweaty, dirty, and a bit tired. The light was not changing. I had pounded the button numerous times, and to keep my heart rate up and my legs moving, I did my usual Let's Jog Around the Light Pole dance (this is not a pole dance).

Unfortunately, this is where I made my tactical blunder. If you drive past a stoplight pole, glance at it and notice that, on the back side of the pole, there is an electrical box - usually about seven feet up the pole.

This one was at head height.

I leave the reader to draw their own conclusions. It didn't hurt too bad, and did not seem to affect me necessarily, but the passengers of the cars at the stoplight were getting a good chuckle. It was not until the next morning (and after a long hot shower right after the run) when I reached up to comb my hair back with my hand that I realized there was blood beneath my hair. In the YMCA showers later, I tried to gently soak it - but I confess I was hesitant to scrub too hard because I thought I might open the jagged, spurting wound back up.

If the dear reader ever ventures to run on the street and decides to jog around the light pole, they should follow one of several courses: (a) Give the pole a wide berth. (b) Crouch down low as they jog. (c) DO NOT JOG AROUND LIGHT POLES.

With affection and bandages for all,

Mrs H
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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Those Who Don't Have Enough Time are Often Procrastinators

To my dear and prudent readers, who themselves have probably never dreamed of procrastinating on anything,

It is not actually an issue of not having the time of day to do something; rather it is the issue of dawdling so much along the way, that prevents me from accomplishing my intended tasks.

This odd disease of which I speak is, of course, procrastination...

When a distasteful task is set before me, it is as though a celestial coin-toss takes place and there are 50/50 odds of me either rolling up my metaphorical sleeves and digging in with gritty determination, or else pathetically concoting a thousand excuses and rationalizations to delay the beginning of the task.

Case in point #1: Scrubbing the back bathroom. For some mysterious reason, I dislike doing this. I am fine with scrubbing the front bathroom, but literally for two months (or was it two and a half months?) I put off scrubbing the back bathroom. I usually clean the house starting from the front (living room, kitchen, foyer), and work my way back through the hallway, office, guest bathroom, and then the bedroom, and by the time I reach the back bathroom I have rationalized to myself that I need to start homework or go to the grocery store, or sift flour or surf, or do some activity other than the heinous one at hand.

Editor's note: I eventually ended up scrubbing the bathroom, but this was only when I decided to start cleaning the house from the back, and work my way forward. One could say I had determined to face my fears in a manner that would make it more difficult for me to escape them.

Case in point #2: Just a mere two weeks ago, I had a short run I needed to accomplish (3 miles). This can be done in about half an hour and truly is not that painful! However, I drove to the appointed spot where I intended to begin, and sat in my car listening to the radio and organizing my purse for half an hour, dawdling, lollygagging, boondoggling, frittering time away ... whatever moniker is affixed to my activity, it all came down to the same thing: procrastination.

Editor's note: I did eventually go on the run, and enjoyed it immensely, and felt good once I finished. Why didn't I just start earlier and save myself the mental anguish of anticipation?

It is far nicer to just skip past all of the pre-activity anxiety and just engage immediately in the task; oftentimes it is not that bad once I begin, and sometimes (such as with running) it is enjoyable and even fun once I begin.

Logically, I know this to be true;

but, dear reader, in my closing remarks I have no sage aphorisms for you and no moral truths to divulge because I feel myself unfit to guide on a path which I have not yet traveled without considerable error. I have no compass with which you can guide yourself unequivocally away from the dark forest of procrastination (although I could suggest you find a coin and toss it to determine whether or not you should dally before an activity). In the world of literature, I understand that all are imperfect and the half-blind are supposed to lead the blind, and that often the "secret" truth is just a trite saying ("Find yourself!") that carries little weight and no meaning past the intitial rush of adrenaline. However, I have no trite sayings, but I could appropriately quote a familiar marketer who is known for their motivational slogans and equipment.

Just do it, people.

With a spirit of encouragement,

Mrs H
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Patrons of the Press, Benefactor of the Blog

Dear friends and readers, my faithful devotees,

What a furious blizzard of chaos my life has been this fortnight past! It seems as though every waking moment is consumed with something, what exactly I do not know, only that it is consumed (much in the manner a gently breaking chocolate chip cookie is consumed by a hungry child). Oddly enough, the television series Heroes seems to be encroaching upon my scant spare time (and I do mean that in the most sarcastic sense)... However, the show is so utterly transfixing that it is hard for me to spare a thought to plan my escape. I think that Netflix, that sanguine patron god of the couch potato, has hooked his deadly claws in my vapid and consenting brain.

Aside from this not so paltry distraction, I have kept myself industriously occupied. I cooked and froze a mountain of waffles, which are useful for busy mornings when we need a hearty breakfast. I have not canned a great deal more, just applesauce, some juice concentrates, and unfortunately ate all of the nectarines I was going to can (they were quite delicious and they were, after all, purchased to be ultimately eaten, as Mr. H pragmatically pointed out). So, I was not compelled, in the end, to store the nectarines at all.

With that weak segue, allow me to point out that it seems to be quite American to stash and horde Stuff, although not necessarily with the intent of using It again; just with the intent of not throwing It away. We have a unique and special method of clearing space (ideally, with the goal of having room in which to move in new Stuff). Recently, I was driving behind a truck that was on its way to the dump (this seemed to be a safe deduction, based on the content of the truck, as you will see if you will only just read on). In the back of the truck were such random miscellany as a piece of foam, punctured with holes and dirty; an aged computer with the chisels from a stone-masons tool still visible on its prehistoric sides; a broken lawn chair, similar to the ones one sees in Ma and Pa Kettle shows; a crushed carboard box; and so on. Imagine my surprise (or singular lack thereof), when the truck bypassed the route to the dump and turned, instead, into a Public Storage parking lot ($1 Buys One Month!!!).

Why do we hang on to our Stuff like that? I don't know, but one can postulate that it is perhaps because there is a certain amount of security to be found in Stuff, albeit a false security. Also, there is that rat-like tendency to save, save, save, with the hope that one day you will be able to use it (if, perchance, you can remember which Unit it is in). There is no real moral to this story, except to say that if you have enough money to rent a storage unit for Useless Stuff, you probably have enough money to buy a new Stuff, if you should chance to need it one day.

With this healthy aphorism, dear reader, I will close this epistle and leave you in peace.


Mrs H
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Monday, June 29, 2009

One Notices That Heather is Awesome

Dearest readers and fans, worldwide,

I've always known that the photos will be almost the most important part of my wedding day. I wanted to somehow capture all of the joy and emotion and be able to look over it, reminisce, laugh at the stories, and see all the things that I missed that day. So choosing the photographer for the wedding was a major, major deal for me.

I had one photographer come to cover primarily formal pictures, he came strongly recommended by a dear friend, Tracey, and he did a stellar job. His name is Don Long as you know, and he also threw in a pre-wedding photo shoot free of charge, and printed two photos and brought them to set on the gift table etc., also free of charge, and threw in a little extra time on the job shooting, also free of charge. He was a huge blessing to us.

But I also wanted a very creative, very innovative and female photographer who could follow me and my girls (even into the bathrooms!) and shoot almost strictly candid photos. I needed somebody who would be able to see the little details and somehow bring the whole day to life again, in jpeg format!

A friend recommended me to Heather Olson, saying, "Have you seen her photography on Facebook? She is so amazing..." I quickly checked out the facebook, immediately contacted Heather, and booked her as fast as I could! She has a knack for photography, angles, light, and most importantly, she has an eye for those tiny vignettes that are so often ignored by the camera, but so poignant when caught on film.

Words do not do her skill justice, so I am going to post some pictures here. These are just from before the ceremony!

Lovingly yours,

Mrs H
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Friday, June 26, 2009

Mystery Gifter

Detectival Readers,

Mysteriously, there were two gift bags from our wedding that did not have names or cards attached, and so I have been left wandering in a sea of puzzlement as to who needs to be thanked. If you were the giver, or if you happen to know who the giver was, please let me know.

Gift #1: Anti-static dryer balls, and a ladle (both from Bed, Bath and Beyond)

Gift #2: Non-stick BBQ Grill pan, 2 beach towels.

Many thanks for your assistance and concern!

Wonderingly yours,

Mrs H
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Because "Thank You" is not too strong a word ... er, phrase ...

Dearest, most devoted readers,

Today I am thrilled to inform you that the Thank You cards for the wedding gifts, are being placed with gentle care in the mail receptacle.

There are three different versions of the Thank You card - collect them all! - with various photos from the wedding. One is a family theme, one is a bridal party theme, and one is a "silly" theme (goofy or fun pictures from the wedding). They were quite entertaining to make.

The reason I put photos on the cards (including cards I mailed out prior to the wedding), is two-fold. One, it is always fun for family members and friends to get to know the bride and groom a little better. Sometimes they only know one member of the esteemed wedding party, and the photos help to acquaint them better with said bride and groom. And two, whenever a thank-you card is received, the sweet sentiments read and appreciated and then quickly discarded. I wished to somehow give my generous patrons a brief moment or two more of entertainment and show my own appreciation, and I felt that by personalizing the cards, I could accomplish such.

To all those who brought gifts to the wedding, who attended the wedding and thus gave me the inestimable joy of their presence and their celebration with me, to all those who were unable to attend but who thought of me and tendered well-wishes and prayers, to all those who have contributed to my path in life and given me such happy memories and have helped to bring me to this point in time, I wish to once more extend my deepest, most sincere and humble gratitude. My friends and family members, both extended and immediate, have brought unspeakable joy and gladness to me, and I just could not live my life without that bright and harmonious love.

With a full heart yours,

Mrs H
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Thumbnails of the three different versions (click to enlarge):

Bridal Party Theme

Family Theme

Fun (Goofy!) Theme

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Wedding Photos

Dearest readers,

Our formal photographer, Don Long, has given us a DVD of all the wedding photos he took. There are 705, and they are beautiful!

In the meantime, here are a few favorites for you to view; click on the thumbnail to view a larger version of the image.

Bride standing in the front of the Chapel prior to ceremony.

Groom gives thumbs up before ceremony.

The groom and groomsmen outside the Chapel.

Bride and bridesmaids before the ceremony.

Lighting the Unity Candle during the ceremony.

Bride and groom with the senior Mr. and Mrs. H

Bride and groom with the bride's family.

Bride and Groom share a kiss after the wedding ceremony.

Mom fixes the bride's lipstick.

A pouty face for the flower girl!

Smiles with the maid of honor.

A kiss for the husband before heading to the reception.

The wedding rings.

Another kiss, this time at the reception.

I hope you enjoy these photos, my friends, and I am excited to share more with you in the upcoming days!

Formally and candidly yours,

Mrs H
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Saturday, June 20, 2009

On Things Domestic

Dear Industrious Reader,

Shortly before the wedding, I purchased a beautiful book called "Ball - Complete Book of Home Preserving." It has inspired me to new heights of domestic wifedom. Just looking at the cover makes me wish it were 4AM and dark out, so I could energetically rise from my rest and, in the vigorous spirit of the exemplar Proverbs 31 woman, tirelessly care for my family. Would that such emotions were so strong when my alarm actually goes off in the morning!

But I digress.

Today I experimented with my first recipe from this hallowed new book (my only other home-preserving book is a pen-marked, tattered canning guide from the mid-60's, a loan from my grandma). I made Red Pepper and Garlic Jelly; ultimately, the process went very well. I am still struggling with getting the pepper and garlic floaties to suspend themselves appropriately, mid-jelly. I keep continually going back to the jars and twisting them, trying to shake the solids down into the bottom.

As you can see, they have a deliciously golden color. To my joy, when Mr. H came into the kitchen he declared that something smelled delicious, and upon learning the nature of said delicious smell's source, asked if he could use it to spice meats at barbeques. Of course, that is the idea, so I agreed.

The recipe is very simple and is included below; garnish meat, crackers and cheese, or chips with this tasty topping.

Just the other day I made a loaf of bread - haven't eaten it yet - just because it felt like something a wife would do. Perhaps tomorrow I will slice it and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some of the everlasting jam I made last summer...


Mrs H
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Red Pepper and Garlic Jelly
Makes about three 8-ounce jars

1 c. finely chopped seeded red bell pepper
3 large cloves garlic, cut into thin slivers
3/4 c. cider vinegar
3 c. granulated sugar
1 pouch (3 oz) liquid pectin

1. Prepare canner, jars, and lids

2. In large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine red pepper, garlic, and vinegar. Stir in sugar. Over high heat, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down. Stir in pectin. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.

3. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot hars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

4. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove jars, cool (rotating occasionally to suspend solids) and store.

5. Feed to an appreciative husband.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

On Planting, and Growing Things in General

Addressed to my dear readers,

Today I examined the miniature garden that flourishes on the back porch. All of the plants seem to be doing quite well, with the exception of the Marguerite Daisies.

This is supremely vexing; when I purchased the beautiful daisy bush at Home Depot, it was a veritable pile of bright, golden flowers. I potted it and hung it on the porch, and by that very night the Eastern Starlings had found it and started tearing it to shreds. Mr. H would run out onto the porch and try to chase away the birds, snapping them with a kitchen towel, but they were very persistent in their cause; even more annoying, they wouldn't even take the blossoms, but would just snap them off and leave them laying on the porch. Now, it is a pitiful stack of spiky stems and browning, drooping blossoms, half torn by starlings.

The rest of the garden seems to be doing quite well, though - the herbs, flowers, tomatoes, lettuce, and radishes. There are some hardy looking cucumber sprouts that are recovered from what looked suspiciously like a sharp beak that had broken the leaves off... Not to be pointing feathers here, but ...

Growing a marriage is, naturally, a profitable pursuit, and far more fruitful than pruning tomato plants. It takes a lot of care, one can imagine; little cliche seeds of love and kindness, and all that rot. We can always learn tricks from experienced gardners - I learned how to prune tomatoes from a lady who had grown them many years. She showed me which branches to trim and when, which branches would bear fruit. She showed me how to cut off the waste, and leave the good. In a marriage, you sometimes have to cut off wasteful branches - selfishness, laziness, a constant inward focus. All of these branches can take up a lot of space in the terra cotta pot of life, and a lot of energy in the photosynthesis of life, and a lot of emotional strength (I do not think plants have a comparable feature to emotion). Sometimes, it is better to just snap the branch off and leave it in the burn pile. Give more room for the fruitful branches of love, sympathy, forbearance, and selflessness to grow.

With these valuable seeds of truth, I close my second epistle.


Mrs H
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